It is tempting to get right out and pick apples as soon as the orchards open, but you might want to plan a couple of trips around your favorite apples and which are best suited to your apple plans for the year. The apples toward the end of the season are generally firmer and will keep well when stored properly, allowing you to enjoy local apples in the winter in pies and snacks.
The best apples for cooking, storing, and snacking come into the season, starting in the middle of August and ending in late October.
Some of our favorite local pick-your-own orchards will update their Facebook pages when apples are ready to pick, so keep an eye out when it gets close to the time for your perfect type.
Mid-August through Early September:
- Jersey or Summer Mac: Small and sweet, perfect for eating and making apple sauce or jelly.
- Paula Red: Crunchy and juicy! Great for pies, baking, apple sauce, and dried apples.
- Gala: Very sweet and soft apple. Doesn’t store well, so they’re just right for snacking!
- Whitney Crab: Larger crab apple that is perfect for making jelly and spiced apples.
- State Fair: Sweet but tart, great for eating and cooking!
- Early Gold: Tart and crisp! This one is great for snacking, as well as pies and other baking, or making apple sauce.
Mid-September – Mid-October
- Wealthy: This is an antique apple! It is tart and excellent for pies, baking, and applesauce.
- Jona-Mac: A cross between Jonathan and Macintosh that is a great choice for all your Apple needs!
- Macintosh: Who doesn’t love a Macintosh? This favorite type is great for eating, baking, and making apple sauce or jelly.
- Jonathan: Sweet and medium-firm, this is another all-purpose apple.
- Jonagold: Just like the Jonathan, this apple is medium-firm and great for all uses.
- Golden Delicious: Very sweet and soft. It doesn’t store well, but it is used right away for eating, baking, salads, and making apple sauce.
- Red Delicious: Super sweet and soft, just like the Golden Delicious. Eat right away!
- Cortland: Another super popular apple that is good for anything you want to use it for!
- Honeycrisp: Large and juicy, this is a straight-eating apple not recommended for baking.
- Sweet 16: Similar to Honeycrisp, but smaller. This one can be used for baking, though!
Early to Late October
- Snow Apples: Another antique apple. This one is tiny and sweet and does not store well.
- Spartan: This crunchy tart apple is juicy and great for eating, baking, and stores very well.
- Gala: Super sweet and crunchier than the early Galas. Perfect eating apple.
- Wolf River: This is one of our favorites! It is big and tart and makes a great pie.
Empire: This is a cross between a Macintosh and a Red Delicious. The best of two classics make this juicy apple good for everything!
- Red Haralson: Tart and juicy, this one is great for pies and other baking as well as snacking.
- Fuji: All-star apple that is sweet and firm, truly all-purpose, and stores very well.
- Braeburn: Another great all-purpose apple that is firm and sweet.
- Gold Rush: A sweet and firm gold apple that stores quite well.
- Rome: Super firm apple, if you love baked apples, this one is for you!
- Northern Spy: Large and firm apple that is great for just about anything.
- Double Red Stayman Winesap: “Wine-like” flavor that lends well to juicing and making cider. This apple is good for eating and will store well through December!
Yellow Newton Pippen: This one of the oldest apples in our country and was loved by Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. Uniquely, this apple is best used after being stored for a month or two as it is quite hard and tart straight from the tree. It is great for eating, baking, juicing, and making hard cider.
How to Store Apples
- Choose one that is great for storing. Generally, these will be the last to ripen in the season.
- Inspect your apples and set aside any with damage to use for eating or cooking.
- Sort by size, you’ll want the smallest apples stored on the bottom and the largest on top.
- Wrap individual apples in newspaper and place into a basket or box.
- Store at 30-35 degrees. Often, a basement is a great place to find the right temperature.
- Enjoy snacking and baking the apples that you picked in fall well into the winter!
Written with help for apple timing from the Wisconsin Harvest Calendar!